The Millennial Leadership Series: Authenticity and the Gremlin


Wish you, dear Reader,  a wonderful 2018 ahead! 

On a longish flight last week, I was again drawn to “Taming your Gremlin”. In the book, the author Rick Carson claims to offer a surprisingly simple method for getting out of your own way.  As I riffled through the pages, I came across the various manifested Gremlins who masquerade as us to the outside world in terms of our personality, our beliefs and our behaviours. This inauthentic persona a.k.a. our Gremlin got created somewhere in the past due to certain specific circumstances but has now taken control of who we are.

Millennial leaders are being increasingly buffeted by disruptions and an environment that lacks predictable cycles and trends. Such unpredictability gives short shrift to management tools and organisational decision making processes. In the absence of path clarity Leadership can get subsumed by the Gremlin.

The Gremlin whispers.

“As a leader you cannot afford to lose peoples’ admiration. If needed you need to stretch the truth and hide what is embarrassing or awkward and even…..manipulate situations and people.”

“As a Leader you need to maintain the pretense of loyalty to your bosses and supporters. Otherwise you run the risk of losing their admiration and support in these uncertain times.”

“You need to look knowledgeable and pretend to have understood things which you haven’t. Else people would think poorly of you.”

Increasingly the inauthentic ‘Gremlin’ persona holds sway. But unfortunately, the personality traits, the beliefs and the behaviour which worked earlier might not succeed under the changed circumstances. After all ……………………

  • Can you be effective in what you want to do when you are trying to be someone you are not?
  • Can you put faith and trust in others to handle an uncertain situation when you yourself are faking it?
  • Can you exercise moral authority on people to embrace something new when you are being inauthentic?

The millennial leader needs to increasingly anchor himself to the foundational element of Authenticity. Being authentic is being and acting consistent with who he holds himself out to be for others, and who he holds himself to be for himself.

Also, one cannot pretend to be authentic. That, by definition, is inauthentic……………

So, what is the pathway that the Millennial leader needs to follow to improve his authenticity?


In Learning…………

Acknowledgement:  Taming your Gremlins by Richard D. Carson. Harper Collins, 2003

Author: Shakti Ghosal

* A PCC Credentialed Executive Coach mentor and trainer for leaders & performance. * A qualified engineer and a PGDM (Faculty Gold medalist) from IIM Bangalore. * Four decades of industry experience spanning Engineering, Maintenance, Projects, Consumer durables, Supply Chains, Aviation and Tourism. * Top level management positions to drive business development, strategy, alliances all around the globe. * A visiting faculty at the IIMs. *A passion to envision trends & disseminate Leadership incubation globally. , * . +91 - 9051787576

11 thoughts on “The Millennial Leadership Series: Authenticity and the Gremlin”

  1. This really nails it in a deep sense. The issue is with reputation. An encouraging thing I find with many Millennials I work with is that they don’t really care about reputation. On one hand, yes – they cater their social media to look good in front of their peers. Some concern for reputation is healthy, and any generation is prone to vanity. Yet, more and more I see Millennials who are willing to stand up and say, “This is me – take it or leave it, but don’t expect me to bend to your whims. I have my own values and concerns.” They want to be authentic instead of living pretenses of loyalty, pretending to have everything together, acting like they have all the answers, or worrying about peoples admiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,

      Thank you for your comment.

      What is reputation really? For most part, it is all about our need to look good and thereby be admired by others, is it not? So when reputation is sought to be acquired in this respect, it is inauthentic. But when reputation shows up because of some of us following our own passions and what we stand for, it is authentic. So I suppose it is all about the attachment ( or lack of) to our reputation that we hold.

      So clearly our millennials are on the right path as far as Authenticity goes and for that we need to applaud them for taking the step to becoming better leaders.


      Shakti Ghosal

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally agreed. Reputation builds itself by consistent action and professing (by deed and word) and this is the authentic kind. Pursue your passion and reputation will come along. But no need to worry about acting and saying things you don’t believe in just to build that rep!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like how you stated we cannot be effective unless we are genuinely ourselves. I know this for I live it. For too many years I allowed others to mold me into what I “should” be. Very good post, one that many ought to sit down and digest. Thank you for pointing me here! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Amy,

      Delighted to see you drop by.

      Foe most of us, if not all, significant time and effort goes in to “show up” in a manner that would lead to us being liked, admired, thought highly of and so on. This is from where our journey into in-authenticity starts. And the more adept we become in donning this ‘mould’ the less effective we become in life, without realising it. This is also when we rationalise all things not working out and going wrong onto other people and circumstances, never on our own-selves.

      But such lack of authenticity and integrity is near universal as beautifully encapsulated in the quote below:

      “Put simply, people consistently act inconsistently, unaware of the contradiction between their espoused theory and their theory-in-use, between the way they think they are acting, and the way they really act.”

      — Harvard Professor Chris Argyris (1991) after 40 years of studying us human beings

      I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      Shakti Ghosal


  3. You’ve given much to ponder, Shakti, and how interesting and believable is the Gremlin take on various personas. The questions you ended with were right on target, and logical to answer, as well. Where I’m at in my life currently, I’m not truly affected, however, authenticity and in-authenticity matters in all relationships, both personal and business. Thanks for sharing this plethora of information, and Happy New Year, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Baydreamer,

      Thank you for your very perceptive thought. I sincerely regret the delay in my responding as I had earlier missed seeing the comment.

      Yes, we at individual levels we might have learned to cope with our Gremlins in a particular fashion. However Leadership to be effective in leading others, needs to be much more clued to the aspect of Authenticity.

      Shakti Ghosal

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good for you for addressing this people pleasing behavior, Shakti. It’s the flip side of American culture which seems to lean toward entitlement. But that’s for another dialogue, another day! Aloha, dear man – and Happy New Year! ❤


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